Last week, Waterford officials approved purchasing two Ford Fusion hybrids for the planning department for $54,476, giving town employees new cars instead of using the retired police cruisers.
The move partly follows Waterford’s fleet management plan, which was finished in November of 2009. The plan, which was constructed by consultants the town hired, advised the town to purchase new cars for employees in the planning department instead of giving them the retired police cruisers. It did not say to buy hybrids.
The reason is that the police cruisers only gained about 10 miles per gallon, and often needed repairs, First Selectman Dan Steward said. He said the new cars will earn 41 miles to the gallon, and shouldn’t have few maintenance issues.
The town also bought hybrids because it secured state grants to cover part of the difference between a standard Ford Fusion, which sells for $15,000, and a hybrid Ford Fusion, which sells for $27,238, Steward said. He argued that over the 10-year life span, the hybrid would pay for itself. A Patch calculation confirms while it is cheaper for the local taxpayer, it isn't cheaper for taxpayers overall.
The two new cars will go to the zoning official and a building official, Steward said.
The Specifics/ Calculations
Before, the town would have employees in the planning department use the retired police cruisers, which generally had about 100,000 miles on them, Steward said. The cruisers would only gain about 10 miles per gallon, and require frequent maintenance, he said.
If an average worker drives about 10,000 miles in a year, which Steward said is fairly realistic, the Ford Fusion hybrid, which earns 41 miles per gallon around town, would burn 244 gallons of gas. The cruisers, which have a powerful engine meant for high-speed chases and only earn 10 miles per gallon, according to Steward, would burn 1,000 gallons of gas over that same time.
If gas prices were $3.70 per gallon, the cruiser would cost an additional $2,797.20 per year. Over the course of 10 years, the length of what the new Ford Fusion should last, that would come to $27,972, or more than the price of the hybrid. The figure also doesn’t factor in maintence costs, which should be much higher for the retired cruiser with more than 100,000 miles.
Waterford purchased the hybrids for $27,238, where as a regular Ford Fusion would have cost $15,000, Steward said. The town did get $8,100 state grant per car to pay for the difference, meaning Waterford taxpayers paid $4,138 more than expected for the car.
Using the same calculation, if an employee in one year drives a regular Ford Fusion 10,000 miles, which earns 21 mph, the employee will use 477 gallons of gasoline. Meanwhile, if that same employee uses a Ford Fusion hybrid, they will use 244 gallons of gasoline, or 233 fewer gallons. That saves, if gas is assumed at $3.70, $862.10 per year.
That means over the lifespan of the vehicle, which the town expects to be 10 years, the hybrid will save $8,621. But the standard Ford Fusion is $12,972 cheaper than the Ford Fusion hybrid, which means taxpayers will pay another $4,351. Of course, all of that hinges on gas prices costing $3.70 per gallon, and that number could change drastically either way.
The town did recover an $8,100 grant from the state to pay for the hybrids, meaning with the grant, Waterford taxpayers would save $3,749 in local taxes. Of course, that grant was funded by state or possibly federal taxpayers. Steward also pointed out that hybrid cars are greener, and are good for the environment.